My Newborn's Sleep

Updated on May 27, 2009
H.A. asks from Citrus Heights, CA
23 answers

My baby grunts a lot and wakes herself up or just grunts a long time in her sleep which keeps us up, she is not constipated though. This is really hard on us b/c we can only get her to sleep by herself at night so its the only time we're not holding her and we need sleep and body recovery from holding her all day. I have read different opinions -either 'you can't spoil a baby, so don't let them cry it out' or 'it is normal for them to cry themselves to sleep to learn to sleep on their own'. She is 7 weeks and we have been holding her practically the whole time! Part of the reason I have wanted to hold her so much is that she has had severe gas pains so she is up crying a lot from that, I don't want her to have to cry anymore than that. I think its mainly dairy, maybe citrus too, but I have laid off the dairy and she seems to have subsided her colicyness, sort of. Please help!- what references or suggestions does anyone have?

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So What Happened?

WOW, THANK YOU EVERYONE for your responses!!! I received lots of good advice, I am playing with all of it! I am so amazed at the lengthy responses- thanks for taking the time to write, it is reasuring to hear common advice and just to hear details from others going through similar issues. I have since ordered the Healthy sleep habits, not here yet. but I also ordered no cry sleep solution which I was able to order online and read immediately with amazon. I read while holding Shaela for a nice long nap. It seems no dairy and chocolate has diminished the colic, but I am still rubbing her belly after diaper changes (and putting some baby message oil on too). That book has helped me have the courage to start trying to put her down more, but in no way am I going to let her cry it out! Thanks for getting me back to my senses! She doesn't stay asleep as long in the day (or night sometimes) when not being held but maybe I just need to keep on trying, I have to hold her though if she misses too much sleep - she is not getting the suggested 15-16 hours of sleep though but 13 is maybe close enough.

More Answers



answers from San Francisco on

Babies are notoriously loud sleepers! Their nasal passages are very tiny and they sometimes can't clear them too well. Hence the noises! My son was a loud sleeper as an infant, but my daughter was even worse. Sometimes it sounded like a flock of geese in the room. If you have your baby in a bassinet/crib, try elevating the head with a folded up towel under the mattress.
If she truly is food-sensitive, you may want to cut out soy and chocolate as well because they can cause gastric problems too. Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) are notorious for causing gas as well.

You haven't mentioned too much about her "routine". At this age they need to sleep a LOT and do so often. However, their wake windows are extremely short and some babies can't even stay awake for 30 minutes without getting overtired. That said, I encourage you to read Marc weissbluth MD's book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. It addresses each phase of development of sleep. She is not old enough for any type of sleep training yet, but you can assist her in a myriad of ways until she is.


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answers from San Francisco on

Hi H.,
Congratulations on your new little one!

I too am a new mom and although I fortunetly did not run into the same issues you are having I have a few friends who have. There is a really cool sleep positioner that may help your little one to stay alsleep and with not so much fuss. It is called the Nap Nanny..check it out at Maybe this may help you out in finding the much needed rest you are looking for!

Good luck to you!



answers from Sacramento on

Congratulations on being a new parent! As many moms are saying, 7 weeks is too young to cry it out. That will start more like 4-5 months old or so. Your little one is crying because she needs help.

While I've not use gripe water, I've heard good stuff about it. One thing you can try during daiper changes is rubbing her tummy in a clockwise motion around her belly button. Also pump her legs as if she is riding a bike (she's laying down on her back, again). Both of these techniques help her digestive system. Good for poops and gas, too! : ) Hopefully, this will help her at night along with all the other wonderful suggestions you are getting!



answers from Yuba City on

Hi H.,

Congratulations on your new baby! I never did the CIO and do not believe in it espcially at 7 weeks. She is an infant who is still adjusting to life outside of your body. Babies make a ton of noise. You will get used to it and will stop hearing every little thing.

My son was colicky and needed to be held constantly. It was very hard on me at the time but I'm glad I did it. It's hard to hold a baby and not get a thing done but you know what the laundry got done, dinner got made. It may not have been in the time frame I had wanted but truly it's just not as important! He's now 2.5 and a wonderful loving little boy.

You are right, you can't spoil a newborn. No one ever looks back and says, "I wish I would have held my child less" so enjoy it while you can!

Good luck,

J. W



answers from Bakersfield on

Hi. Congratulations on the new member of you family! As for holding her all day (you cannot spoil a new baby) get a moby wrap or baby sling and wear her so you can give your arms some rest. As for the night, do you swaddle her? Maybe one of those swaddling blankets would help. I didn't read everyone else's responses so hope I'm not repeating what everyone else is saying. Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

This sounds exactly like my baby!! We propped her head up slightly at night and this helped tremendously! We put a small pillow or a roled blanket under her mattress. We did check this with her ped and were told this is ok as long as it's under the sheet. We also gave her some of the infant gas drops before bed. All of this helped us get through the grunting patch. My DD is now 13 weeks old and sleeps quietly through the night (7-8 hours). Good luck and congratulations.



answers from Sacramento on

Hello H.- While I don't think you can spoil an infant of her age, you need your rest. Have you asked her doctor what he/she thinks? Also, you can check out of the library or purchase "What to Expect The First Year". If it is in fact gas, I used Gerber colicky nipples at first which seemed to help (you can used these even if you are breasfeeding just pump your milk and use these on bottles for some feedings) and Mylicon gas drops (check with your doctor first). I think they both helped. Everything I've read says babies do cry, however, I'm not a firm believer of letting them cry too long. There's generally a reason they are crying. You can tell the difference between general fussiness and wanting/needing something. It is a good thing if you've given up dairy and citrus for now. Good luck!



answers from Chico on

Dear H.,

Congratulations on your new baby! Sounds like you have a typical newborn as far as sleep goes. 7 weeks is too young to even think about "crying it out" anyway. You can probably already hear the difference between a full on cry and a moment of fussiness. Some babies are just noisier than others. My daughter was a grunter and gassy, too. The dairy elimination didn't help us, but baby massage did. My pediatrician gave me a little instruction sheet for massaging the babies tummy, which we did at every diaper change. It help her expel a lot of gas. Eventually she just outgrew the gassiness. We also tried letting her sleep in the baby carrier sometimes during the day so I could nap but she was secure in the 5 pt. harness, and sometimes she slept on her tummy during the day because she slept more soundly that way. One last thing that helped was swaddling her for bedtime.

Best wishes as you get to know her! :)



answers from San Francisco on

I have been going through the same thing with my son who is now 4.5 months old. Although his grunting has some what stopped he still has gas pains and is some what colicky. I hold my son on my chest to sleep most nights. Sometimes I do put him in his crib but no matter what he is up ever 1.5-3 hours. I give him mylacon which seems to work. It's up to you whether you let her cry at this point, but all the books I've read on sleep training say you shouldn't let them cry it out until 4-6 months of age. I can't stand to hear my little boy cry and he is no. 2. I had the same issues with my first one but he is 2.5 now and sleeps 10-12 hours a night. It will get better. Hang in there.



answers from Fresno on

I have a 9 week old and I just started to give her gripe water once a day and that has seemed to help with gas a lot. I also give her Mylicon a few times a day as needed. She just recently stop making a bunch of noise at night and will sleep soundly for 6-8 hours. Also, if I limit my dairy and chocolate that seems to help too.



answers from San Francisco on

Hi Hillary,

I know that a lot of prediatricians in the old days would say if a baby cries hard, gets red faced, and raises her knees to her chest that she is having gas or colic.

I read a book 15 years ago from a doctor (can't remember now, but i think it was called No More Colic) who said colic is a catch all term for crying, and that there were specific reasons why babies cry and usually it is not pain.In his research, all babies, when their needs are not being met, will increase the disress to send the signal to the parent that the need is still not being met, with clench fists,red face, louder voice, legs pulled to belly, etc. If, still the need doesn't get met, they get even more frantic, sometimes unconsolable. In his research he said the most common reasons for crying are 1) hunger 2)tired. And that 99% of the time it was one of the two. Pain can cause intense crying but he said it was much more rare than people are led to believe and many times moms will discern a "different" kind of cry.
To have gas pains every day just doesn't sound right-I know doctors pull this excuse off all the time, but, I think it is in-accurate. Toddlers, kids, and adults don't have gas pains every day, so it doesn't make sense that a baby would. Food allergies-yes, but gas pains, sounds like the doctor is grasping for reasons.

Anyway, I did use his technique with all 3 of mine and it did work. Food and sleep.(the mistake I did make with my first one was rocking her to sleep, then trying to ferberize her at 12 months. what a fiasco.) To this day she still fights sleep, and she is 13) My last two are great sleepers and they were put down to sleep in beds as babies. I didn't even use the swing.

The author also said that the need for sleep is GREAT, and most people underestimate just how much sleep a baby needs.When my babies were that young, they were only awake for 15 minutes at a time, and then back to sleep for a nap.
If she is awake for longer periods than that, she could be crying for the need of sleep. There are many babies who need to lay down to be able to relax. I think crying is a normal response because remember, they will cry until the 'need is met', and if they are still awake and feel tired, then they will be crying until the need get's met(IE: they fall asleep).

It is a shame that the word "spoiling" was used with a baby. The people who coined that term years ago just didn't get it. HUMANS ARE CREATURES OF HABIT. The real word that should be used in it's place is 'training'. Yes, even a young baby can be 'trained' into certain things. Scientists do it with animals and rats all the time, so how much more will you be able to train a being who has a higher brain. I learned that the hard way. It is always easier to START OUT with the training of the behavior you want to instill in them than to try to undo undesirable behavior later.I also learned that I underestimated my babies and they were capable of being trained younger than I thought. For example, if you want to instill good brushing habits, don't wait until the child is 2. Start getting them into the feel of having something in thier mouth early, (I dunno, maybe 9 months with a soft brush) so that as they grow and get a mind of their own, they don't buck you. If you want the child to be able to go to sleep on their own, then allow them to do so by placing them in the crib. People might think it is impossible to train a baby, they are wrong. As the child grows and the brain becomes more sophisticated, they will want to repeat what they have already 'learned' or experienced.(This is even true of adults! See how hard it is for an adult to change habits that are formed.) For example if their reality is to NOT have a toothbrush in their mouth, then the tendency will be to fight it to the finish (some more than others!)
I think it would be wise, for your own well being and rest, as well as your babies well being, to start her training now so that any unwanted sleeping habits don't get more ingrained. After all, you don't want her in your bed when she is 8! (yes, I know mothers who still have their kids in their beds at 6, 7 and 8).
Having a good nights sleep is imperative to being able to be a good mom and meet your children's needs.



answers from Sacramento on

First of all, congrats! In 3 months, you'll be past this stage and on to something else!

I have 2 kids, and my second had colic. Here's what worked for us:

sling during the day
at night, we put her in the car seat a lot( the upright position helped with the non-sleeping issues)
white noise (we bought a CD called Hush Little Baby -soothing sound for sleep---it has everyday noises that some babies are soothed by. Our daughter happens to be soothed by "fan noises"
car rides (with the A/C full blast, since this seemed to quiet her)

Best wishes! And, it truly will pass before you know it!



answers from San Francisco on

Firstly, a baby under 6 months old should always be comforted as soon as possible. They need to learn that they can trust you to attend to their needs for them to develop any confidence for themself.

After 6 months you can begin teaching them to self-soothe. Try your best to begin NOW to not rock/nurse her to sleep or she will learn to always expect it, and self-soothing will come much harder for her.

Secondly, The main causes of gas and stomach cramps in newborns are as follows:
- Cauliflower/Broccoli/Cabbage (no cole-slaw!)
- Garlic/Onions/Green Onions (you'll be amazed how many things have either onions or garlic in them when you have to cut them out of your diet)
- Milk/Dairy
- Citrus/Strawberries/Kiwi
- Chocolate
- Pinto/Black (etc.) Beans

Cut every single one of the above things out of your diet. Yes, it will suck for a few weeks, but hang in there.

After 4 days of NONE of the above, add ONE of the foods back in YOUR diet for the next few days. Don't try any others for 4 or 5 days. If she has no bad reaction, try adding another one in. Repeat the process of adding things back into your diet every 4 to 5 days until she has a reaction. I put the worst gas-producers at the top. Start from the bottom and work your way UP the list.

My one of my daughters got horrible gas when ever I ate onions or garlic of any type - even in a garlic/onion salt that was an ingredient in something.

My other daughter couldn't tolerate any broccoli / cauliflower / cabbage. She would get miserable until I figured out what the cause was.

A friend of mine can't eat chocolate without her baby getting cramps.

It is a process of elimination that takes a few weeks, but your baby will definitely sleep better and not hurt once you figure out what causes the gas.

Good Luck and congratulations,



answers from San Francisco on

Babies need to put themselves to sleep. Hold until baby is almost asleep and then put in bed. Baies wake up an average of 10 times a night. They look around and go back to sleep and may cry abit. They need to know you are there so if they don't go to sleep, go and talk to baby and pat the baby and say it is night time and time to sleep. If they are wet or hungry of course their needs need to be met.
If you don't let them learn what they do best on thier own, they will be sleeping with you until they are six years old making your sleep miserable. One neighbor we had her daughter was a year old. If she was not being held, she would scream! She did not tell me this when I started to provide child care for her when my two sons were young. She was the only child I cared for. She learned to play with toys, walk around, and be social very slowly. And of course be held too! Have a bedime routine and your baby will learn.



answers from Stockton on

Hi H.,
Congrats on baby. I read a few books on CIO and no-CIO and they both say 'you cannot spoil an infant.' so rest assured you are ok holding your newborn as often as you are. There will be a time very soon around the corner actually that she will sleep by herself just fine.
I held my son all the time, I wore him while he slept when I could and just rocked him while he slept and I'd watch tv to relax. He is 17 months and a good sleeper, he takes his long naps and he sleeps through the night.
But in the beginning I was not so sure, I poured over books to make sure I was doing the right thing. the books I'd recommend are Happiest Baby on The Block, by Karp and Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child.
I did not and have not let my son CIO, although we considered it many times. I just don't believe it is a method that works for me or my family.

I know that many, many people have fears about holding their children too much. But spoiling a child is different than giving the security to your infant. She is an infant until she walks, and at that point you will see it is time to start saying no, and not giving into every whimper. At this stage of her life she can only grunt and cry to send signals to you as to what she needs. She is NOT manipulative at this stage she doesn't know how. Follow your insticts, ignore the advice that makes you uncomfortable. You know her better than anyone - even your doctor. You are not doing it wrong.

So hold her as much as you want. Check out Dr. Sears' website about baby wearing and it can give you peace of mind on holding your infant.
Best of luck.



answers from Sacramento on

A wonderful book is "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth, MD. Also look in to any of the sleep books by attachment parenting guru William Sears, MD. "Happiest Baby on the Block" by Harvey Karp, MD is also terrific and has great methods for soothing fussy babies. Elizabeth Pantley's "No Cry Sleep Solution for Babies" is wonderful and has sleep tips for the whole family. Your baby is behaving typically for her age. Babies make all kinds of grunting noises and it has nothing to do with colic or fussiness. That said, if your baby is colicky, you can try dietary changes (although not all colic is caused by dietary changes, and there is disagreement as to whether dietary changes can help -- but it's worth a try!). All three of my children grew out of the "grunting" noises by 3 months. My oldest was colicky, and while dietary changes didn't help, she turned out to have reflux. It helped to keep her upright for 20 minutes after feeding, burp her frequently during feedings, and eventually we needed to try a medication which made a world of difference. However, just to be clear, the grunting and typical baby noises are different than colic (defined by more than 3 hours a day of extreme fussiness, for three weeks at least, which usually resolves by 3 months of age). With our daughter, her colic resolved by 5 months old. As for crying it out, it is not recommendable prior to 6 months of age as they are just too young and need more time to develop and mature, and I believe that for many babies it would be better to wait until they are a year old. Babies need to have their needs responded to promptly or you could be creating bigger issues. That said, it is ok to let her fuss a little bit, as that will help her learn how to self soothe. There is a world of difference between a bit of fussing and letting her cry it out. You will begin to hear when your baby is simply fussing, or frustrated and protesting being left alone, or is truly anxious and afraid -- obviously you want to avoid putting your baby in an anxious state, but it's ok to let her fuss a bit. It is also completely normal for her to need to be held, seemingly constantly while she is a newborn. A few short weeks ago she was part of you, "held" constantly and every need taken care of immediately, so it is unrealistic to expect a newborn to suddenly be able to sleep on her own or spend much time without contact. Try a baby bjorn or sling, and let the housework and everything else slide. You will reap the benefits of a trusting relationship with your baby if you allow her needs to be met now. All three of my babies were held and carried frequently when newborns, and all slept for much of the night on my chest or beside the bed in a bassinet, and they are all very independent, happy, active children and terrific sleepers. Also try motion, like a swing or going for a walk in the stroller or with a baby carrier. You mentioned you like getting out in nature -- try a baby backpack, your baby will love going for walks! (And it WILL get easier to get out of the house!!). Your baby is used to constant motion from when she was inside of you, so until she is about 3 months old, it's ok to let her sleep in a swing, bouncy seat, bjorn, etc. Check in to the books I mentioned as they all have great recommendations on how to help your baby become a great sleeper. Enjoy the moment -- it all goes so quickly!



answers from San Francisco on

7 weeks is too young to let you baby cry it out. They are crying for a reason when they are this tiny. All you can do is love them and keep an eye out for anything abnormal (if you're not sure ask your pediatrician). I know you're tired, but soon enough your baby will get on a schedule (3 months or so) and life will get better.

It sounds like you're already doing a good job by pinpointing what foods trigger the gas episodes - all my kids had similar issues. I said earlier to keep an eye on your baby because my son ended up having food allergies that took us 6 months to figure out. His major stomach issues were also accompanied by serious eczema. He's now 3 and grown out of many of the allergies and doing great, so time definately makes things easier.

My newer baby who's 6 months still wakes up 2x in the night. But, at least now I know the schedule which makes sleeping a possibility. Good luck to you! Hang in there!



answers from Sacramento on

Congratulations! Welcome to the sleep deprivation club:)
Two great easy to read resources I can recommend are:
1. "Baby 411" by Ari Brown M.D. and Denise Fields it's agreat resource for all things baby written by a Mom and a Mom Pediatrician. It may be available at your local library or Amazon. I got my copy at Barnes & Noble.
2. For sleep information - Marc Weissbluth "Healthy Sleep habits, Happy Child". Great information about how babies sleep and what to expect as they get older. Yep, it's too early to CIO but it's never to early to learn about sleep and what you can do to start to set up the patterns for healthy sleep for your babies future. Best of Luck.



answers from San Francisco on


I know this sounds a little crazy but my daughter was extremely colicy for her first few months of life, we were going crazy with no sleep and never being able to put her down for all her crying. My mother finally recomended taking her to the Osteopath so we did, and she changed the same day, she stopped crying, slept better and seemed happier in general. The Osteopath said she had a kink in her neck from her fast delivery, and he worked it out in two sessions. (the kaiser doctors had been saying it was maybe acid reflux, or just plain colic). Anyway, maybe try taking your baby girl to an osteopath, or chiropractor, it's definately worth a shot.
If you live near Santa Rosa, Seb. I can give you the name of ours, shoot me an email.
good luck,



answers from San Francisco on

Hang in there. I have an 11 week old and she was also pretty fussy for a few weeks around week 5. I was thinking it was something in my diet like dairy until a friend of mine told me all babies go through a phase of being fussy (almost like colic) around this time. I decided not to cut anything out of my diet and just wait and see. Sure enough it all went away around week 8.
Does your baby still sleep in your room? I moved my daughter to her crib at 3 weeks because of the noises she made at night. It kept me up all night. She loves her crib and we both sleep great now. Also try giving her some gas drops and see if that helps.

Hang in there, it gets better.



answers from Sacramento on

Congratulations on your new baby and sorry you are dealing with colic. I am have some suggestions for the colic as we also had a fussy baby to start off with. Things that worked for us, using a sling it really helps save your body and the babies love it as it makes them feel as though they are back in the womb. Once they have fallen asleep you can put them down in the sling without waking them up.

Gripe water is a saving grace, I found the baby bliss gripe water worked best and it would ease gas and constipation pains within 15 minutes.

A large exercise ball is great to sit on and bounce them and saves your knees. Bouncing quite vigorously while patting their back and saying "sush-sush-sush" pause "sush-sush-sush" in rhythm also helps a lot. You can be quite loud and quite vigorous.

White noise such as a hair dryer works for some colicy babies.

I had my baby worked on by a chiropractor as birth trauma can cause colic. This is mentioned in the La Leche League book several times. There was an immediate improvement and I would recommend Dr Marc Ross in Davis.

I know it is little consolation but it is true what everyone says "this too shall pass".

Good luck and know that your baby will thank you later for giving her so much love now even when you would rather be asleep.




answers from Sacramento on

I'm sorry to hear that you are not getting the sleep you deserve. I remember when my 7 year old was a baby her dad and I would take turns waking up with her. Whoever's turn it was would pick her up and leave the bedroom until she was ready to go back down. This way both of us got the sleep we deserved. I have no experience with a baby having to be held so much as my child was not like that. Altough, she did have alot of gas, I think because I fed her formula instead of breastmilk. I remember burping her and if that didn't work I'd give her gas drops. The gas drops were a life saver...


answers from Stockton on

H. ~ I have an 8 week old baby, and 2 other kids ages 6 & 7. With the first two kids, I used the book "Babywise" - it was awesome. We recently moved and the book was packed up somewhere and I couldn't find it, I was going nuts doing the same thing as you and not getting any rest. I finally got anothere copy of the book, and things are MUCH better now! It is great for getting your baby on a schedule, and they sleep through the night much faster in my experience. It took less than a week of doing the things suggested in the book and my daughter was sleeping for 5 - 6 hours at night, and then within another week 8 - 9 hours. It is so nice to get some extended sleep! For the gas, I lay her on her back on a blanket on the floor and then I sit at her feet and put her feet up to her belly gently - it helps with the gas, and she really likes it. I also learned with my first child at a parenting class that I took on infant massage one that I remember and it is for colic. You lay them on their back, and then you use both hands and gently rub their tummy in a clockwise motion, so one hand would start at the bottom, the other at the top of her belly and then move them at the same time....since both of these things help with gas and tummy pain, I usually put her on the ground and do her legs for a bit, then her tummy, then her legs also helps to give my back a bit of a break! Good Luck -

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